Burning mouth syndrome is the medical term for a chronic burning in the mouth without an obvious reason. This discomfort or pain may affect the tongue, gums, lips, inside of your cheeks, roof of your mouth (palate) or widespread areas of your whole mouth. The burning sensation can be quite severe. It can feel as if you burned the tissues in your mouth.
Burning mouth syndrome generally appears suddenly, but it can also develop slowly over time. Often the specific cause often is not easily or cannot be determined which can cause frustration for patient and doctor.
Burning Mouth Syndrome Symptoms
- A burning sensation that most commonly affects your tongue. This syndrome may also affect your lips, gums, palate(roof of your mouth), throat or in some cases your entire mouth.
- A sensation of dry mouth (also called xerostomia) with an increased thirst.
- Taste changes. This can include a bitter or metallic taste.
- Loss of taste.
- Tingling, stinging or numbness in your mouth.
Burning mouth syndrome can last for months to years. In some rare instances of burning mouth syndrome, symptoms may suddenly go away on their own or become less frequent. Some of the burning sensations may be temporarily relieved during eating or drinking.
Burning mouth syndrome generally does not cause any outward physical changes to your oral tissues.
Burning Mouth Syndrome Causes
While there is no known cause, there is a belief that an issue with the taste and sensory nerves of the peripheral and central nervous systems plays a role. In other cases, burning mouth syndrome can be caused by a medical condition. These may include:
- Dry mouth (xerostomia), which can be caused by various prescription medications (include antihistamines, high blood pressure medications, and anti depressants), health problems (diabetes and autoimmune disorders), salivary gland function issues or the side effects of treatment for cancer (chemotherapy and radiation).
- Oral Conditions such as a fungal infection of the mouth (oral thrush), an inflammatory condition called oral lichen planus or a condition called geographic tongue that gives the tongue a maplike appearance
- Nutrition deficiencies. This can include a lack of iron, zinc, folate (vitamin B-9), thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and cobalamin (vitamin B-12).
- Allergies or reactions to foods. This can include food flavorings, other food additives, fragrances, dyes or dental materials.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that enters your mouth from your stomach.
- Certain medications, particularly high blood pressure medications
- Oral habits, such as tongue thrusting, biting the tip of the tongue and teeth grinding (bruxism)
- Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- Excessive mouth irritation, which may result from overbrushing your tongue, using abrasive toothpastes, overusing mouthwashes or having too many acidic drinks
- Psychological factors, such as anxiety, depression or stress
Burning Mouth Syndrome Risk Factors
Burning mouth syndrome is not very common. It is mostly seen in patients with cahracteristics below:
- Perimenopausal or Postmenopausal
- >50 yrs old
Burning mouth syndrome usually begins with no rhyme or reason. However, your risk of developing burning mouth syndrome may increase with the following:
- Recent illness
- Presence of a chronic medical disorders such as fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, autoimmune disorders and neuropathy
- Previous dental procedures
- Allergic reactions to food
- Prescription Medications
- Traumatic life events
Traditional Burning Mouth Syndrome Treatment
Most treatments focus in on a dry mouth issue.
- Change medications that cause dry mouth. Many medications are known to cause dry mouth. Your doctor may adjust dosages or change to a different medication to give you some relief from burning mouth syndrome.
- Recommend products to moisturize your mouth. These can include prescription or over-the-counter mouth rinses, artificial saliva or moisturizers to keep your mouth lubricated. There are mouthwashes designed specifically for dry mouth. These can include Biotene Dry Mouth Oral Rinse or Act Dry Mouth Mouthwash.
- Prescribe medication that stimulates saliva. Your doctor may prescribe pilocarpine (Salagen) or cevimeline (Evoxac) to stimulate saliva production to relieve symptoms of dry mouth.
- Protect your teeth. To prevent tooth decay from dry mouth, your dentist might fit you for fluoride trays, which you fill with fluoride and wear over your teeth at night.
How Can Botox Help?
Botox has been used for a long time by dentists and doctors for cosmetic purposes. However, recently it’s use has been expanded to help other conditions including Temperomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD) and migraine headaches. A recent study has shed light that it can help burning mouth syndrome.
The very small study finds that Botox “might be an effective, long-lasting, and safe treatment” for the disorder. It is important to temper expectations until more research is performed as this was a small study but very promising.
The research team examined three women and one man (all between ages of 60-80). All 4 subjects were experiencing burning mouth syndrome on their tongue and lower lip for at least 6 months. Each of the patients received a total of 16 Botox injections directly into the tongue and lower lip. The researchers found that within 48 hours of injection all pain and discomfort disappeared. They also reported relief last for a period of between 16-20 weeks.
Botox And Burning Mouth Syndrome
While the study was small the results were promising. This could give hope to those suffering from burning mouth syndrome to give them relief long term. It is important to see your dentist or doctor as soon as symptoms develop so that a course of treatment can be prescribed to limit the pain and discomfort and bring you back to full health. As always see your dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings.